CC: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Support_for_CEU@ceu.edu
April 3, 2017
Mr. Zoltán Balog
Minister of Human Capacities
1054 Budapest, Akadémia utca 3.
Dear Minister Balog,
As the global representation of students of political science and related disciplines, we express our concerns at proposed changes of Hungarian higher education legislation that is apparently targeted at one specific higher education institution in Hungary, the Central European University (CEU). These changes would strike a blow to academic freedom for higher education institutions all over the world, and would seriously endanger the CEU’s continued operation in Budapest.
IAPSS is the worldwide representation of students of political science and related disciplines. IAPSS strives to deliver a sustainable academic contribution to the education of its members, to foster exchange among young political scientists across the globe and to promote social and scientific responsibility. We do this by offering a multiplicity of events, publications, professionalization and career services as well as lobbying for political science interests on the international level. The Association – founded in 1998 in Leiden (the Netherlands) – is exclusively student-led, non-profit and politically independent. The IAPSS Headquarters is located in Nijmegen (the Netherlands) – hosted and supported by Radboud University Nijmegen, IAPSS’ premium partner and itself a leading institution in the political science arena in Europe.
IAPSS is committed to the fundamental principles of academic freedom, which is a necessary condition for any student of any academic discipline to learn, be able to put forward arguments and have a critical debate about them. Any effort to undermine these principles is detrimental to all students around the globe, but particularly to those of social sciences and humanities. Moreover, such an effort constitutes an attack on the very functioning of international academic associations such as ours.
The Central European University has demonstrated outstanding capacities in offering a space for research, teaching and debating, particularly in the social sciences and humanities. Its diversity, a principle we strongly support and implement in our Association, is exemplary to other academic institutions in the world. Its scientific excellence, demonstrated by its results in international rankings, publications and research grants, as well as in attracting top scholars and practitioners from all over the world, guarantees high quality education and a unique experience for all, including Hungarian students that form a substantial portion of its student body.
Between 4-8 April, CEU is hosting our largest annual academic event, the IAPSS World Congress. We have established a fruitful cooperation which made it possible to bring more than 100 participants from 33 countries to Budapest, Hungary’s capital. They will have a chance to become familiar not only with the environment of CEU, but also the atmosphere of Hungary, and they will carry the impressions of Hungary back to all these countries.
CEU has already proven its qualities so it depends on your decision to safeguard or, to the contrary, attack academic freedoms, what these impressions will be. For sure, not only political science students from all over the world are well aware what lies within a limited government required in any kind of democratic regime, and what already constitutes a descent into authoritarianism. As much as academic freedom is a vital element of any democracy, its violation paves the way towards an authoritarian regime.
Thus, we condemn the proposed discriminatory legislation that compromises academic freedom. We urge the Hungarian government to withdraw it and then enter into consultation with CEU over an appropriate arrangement that would allow CEU to freely continue with its academic activities in Hungary.
The International Association for Political Science Students
Anna-Lisa Wirth, President (Germany),
Laura Dunkley, Secretary-General (United Kingdom),
Axel Nordenstam, Head of IAPSS World Congress and Member of the Executive Committee (Sweden)
Max Steuer, Head of the Academic Department and Member of the Executive Committee (Slovakia)
CC: Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary;
Office of the Prime Minister;
Central European University